In her fourth year at Riverhead, volleyball head coach Amy Greene believes this season’s team is her most talented. And after jumping out to a 2-0 record to start the season, they continued to test that notion, returning to action Thursday night to face off against the Hauppauge Eagles.
The Blue Waves came out with high energy, eager to extend the winning streak, but were cut short falling three games to one in a best of five match at Hauppauge High School. Riverhead lost the first game, but rallied late in the second, scoring a bunch of consecutive unanswered points, to take the second game.
Hauppauge then went on a scoring spree for the next two games, holding off every Blue Wave comeback, leading to the 3-1 loss for Riverhead.
“Our caliber of play this year is three times, four times, better than we were in the past years,” Greene said.
Riverhead (0-1 League IV, 2-1 overall) features 5 seniors in their rotation so the experience is definitely there.
“I’ve been with the seniors since they were freshmen,” Greene said. “So this is basically four years of work in progress.”
Though pleased with her team’s effort so far this season, Greene reiterates that this is “just the beginning.”
“Come mid-season,” she said, “we’ll definitely be a threat.”
Greene says that the strength of this year’s team is the defense. And it’s the defense that has lifted the Blue Waves to victory in previous games.
“Our defense and blocking is what kept us in the game against a very talented Hauppauge team,” she said. “They have great swingers.”
As far as defense is concerned, look no further than the team’s libero, or defensive specialist, Joscelin Morrow to consistently perform at a high level.
The highly-talented junior can be seen on all parts of the floor, diving to save a rally and making an impact serve after serve.
“Joscelin sees every hit,” Greene said. “She’s aware of every hit and where she is on the court and a great team player. She leads our defense out there and is very vocal. We really rely on her.”
Morrow recorded a team-leading 21 digs.
Seniors Hali Martens and Sara Tucci also contributed significantly. Martens had 17 digs and 6 kills. Tucci registered 24 assists and 10 digs.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the match was the play of program newcomer Dezarae Brown. She already made a name for herself on the basketball court and almost certainly will do the same for volleyball as a middle hitter. She recorded 9 kills and 3 blocks on Thursday.
“She’s big up there,” Greene said. “I tell her that when she’s up there to own the net. Her only objective up there is to swing and block. She’s so much fun to work with and she’s improving every single day. I have high hopes and aspirations for her in the future.”
The loss against Hauppauge, Greene said, was a result of poor execution on the offensive end.
“Offensively, we need to just start putting balls away and keep the pressure on their defense,” she said.
The Blue Waves will face East Islip on Monday in Riverhead at 4 p.m.
“East Islip is new to our league so I don’t know much about them,” Greene said. “So we’ll just go in there with an open mind and play like we did today.”
“I’m not really worried.”